President Donald Trump released a statement Tuesday announcing his continued alliance with Saudi Arabia, despite reports the CIA has determined with high confidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump’s statement—subtitled “America First!” and beginning with the exclamation, “The world is a very dangerous place!”—relies on the fact that while the CIA may be highly confident in its research, the intelligence is not conclusive.
Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi embassy of Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2. The Crown Prince has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder, but members of his inner circle were among those arrested for the crime. The United States has already sanctioned 17 Saudi officials in connection to the murder.
A CIA report expected to be delivered to the president Tuesday afternoon allegedly states the Crown Prince did in fact have knowledge of Khashoggi’s planned murder, which Trump calls an “unacceptable and horrible crime.”
“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump writes. “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
By separating the actions of the Crown Prince with that of his country, Trump focuses on how Saudi Arabia is a “great ally” in the “important fight against Iran” and is willing to keep oil prices low. He also notes that the country agreed to spend $450 billion in the United States, including a $110 billion arms deal.
“If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business,” Trump wrote. “It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!”
Trump also adds that while members of Congress may disagree with his position on Saudi Arabia, “for political or other reasons,” he will only consider other options “if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America.”